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Legislative Fights for Our Rights

“United We Bargain, Divided We Beg”

Get your state senator’s phone number. Call their Springfield office and tell them to “Vote Yes on both HB2267 and HB2275 (HB2275 passed Jan. 11, 2021!) and to restore CTU’s bargaining rights and bring democracy to Chicago Public Schools.” Then call Senate President Don Harmon at 217-782-8176 and tell him to call the bills and vote Yes! You can also use the form below to send an email to your senator and Sen. Harmon in support of HB2267.

HB2267: Elected Representative School Board

Chicago is an outlier in Illinois as a major district whose school board is not directly elected by the people whose welfare it is meant to serve. HB 2267, which has passed the House and currently awaits recognition and vote in the Senate, would fix that situation and finally bring an important measure of democracy to Chicago Public Schools.

Parents and community members across the city have been demanding a real say in the direction of CPS for years. A few years ago, nearly 90% of voters supported a referendum on this question. Despite this clear mandate, the city continues to stall. This stance is especially problematic in a city like Chicago, where the student body is 90% students of color and has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. CPS needs real parental and community input and collaboration on a pandemic response, yet parents are disenfranchised by having an appointed school board, and CPS leadership has been wholly unresponsive to parents’ concerns. If parents and community members in Evanston, Park Ridge, Oak Park, Cicero, Evergreen Park, Blue Island, and Dolton can vote for a school board, voters in Chicago should be able to as well.

HB2275: Restore our labor rights

“We don’t have to bargain about that.”

~CPS to Judges

Independent labor arbitrators and courts repeatedly ruled that CPS neglected safety measures and stonewalled Union efforts to ensure them. Yet, every time they had to answer our legal actions, their lawyers fell back on one refrain: We don’t have to bargain.

What makes them cocky enough to ignore the united voice of more than 25,000 frontline educators? It’s one page on the law books passed in 1995 as part of the legislative package that put CPS under the mayor’s thumb. That bit of legalese is known as Section 4.5 of the IELRA: the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Or just “The Infamous 4.5.” You can read that section at ctulocal1.org/4.5 and the entire law at ctulocal1.org/ielra.

The Infamous 4.5 strips bargaining rights from Chicago educators — and only Chicago educators. The law states that CPS does not have to bargain with any educators union over class size, outsourcing, length of day and year, layoffs and more. No other teachers union local in the entire state is subject to this injustice.

Right now, we have a chance to restore the bargaining rights stripped away by mayoral control 25 years ago. The Illinois House has already passed HB2275, which would restore CTU’s bargaining rights and put us on equal footing with teachers union locals across the state. The bill only needs to be called by the Illinois Senate’s new president, Don Harmon, and the Senate can pass it during next week’s special session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Right now, the entire city and state are witnessing the clear and present danger of an out-of-control mayor with complete legal control of the school district. The election of a new Senate President makes this moment even more appropriate to finally restore the collective bargaining rights that were unjustly taken from Chicago educators. But each and every educator and supporter will need to do our parts to make this happen.

Take Action

Get your state senator’s phone number. Call their Springfield office and tell them to “Vote Yes on both HB2267 and HB2275 and to restore CTU’s bargaining rights and bring democracy to Chicago Public Schools.” Then call Senate President Don Harmon at 217-782-8176 and tell him to call the bills and vote Yes!